Opting out of corporate careers: portraits from a women's magazine

Summers, J., Eikhof, D. R. and Carter, S. (2014) Opting out of corporate careers: portraits from a women's magazine. Employee Relations, 36(1), pp. 33-48. (doi: 10.1108/ER-03-2013-0028)

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to critically explore media representations of opting-out and how these present particular professional identities as appropriate career choices for women. Through an examination of a UK women's magazine the paper looks at how opting-out in favour of work based on traditionally female housewifery skills and attributes is communicated and justified in the texts. Design/methodology/approach: The paper adopts a social identity approach to a qualitative content analysis of 17 consecutive monthly magazine features. Findings: While the magazine frames women's career choices as unlimited, identity is presented as gendered, biologically fixed and therefore inescapable. The magazine presents opting out as an appropriate route for women based on a “female identity” grounded in traditional female attributes of caring, hosting, baking, etc. However, this leaves women's work open to potentially negative interpretations of these traditional female attributes. The texts appeal to a post-feminist discourse and imply that problems experienced by women in public sphere careers are partly the outcome of the feminism of the 1960s and 1970s. Research limitations/implications: Future research should study how readers interpret the texts. Originality/value: The paper demonstrates the explanatory potential of using of a social identity approach in the analysis of media texts.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Carter, Professor Sara and Eikhof, Professor Doris Ruth
Authors: Summers, J., Eikhof, D. R., and Carter, S.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
College of Social Sciences
Journal Name:Employee Relations
ISSN (Online):1758-7069

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